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NGOs want larger role in national planning

CIVIL society representatives have called on the government to allow for more input on Cambodia’s national planning process, repeating earlier criticisms that NGOs were not given enough of an opportunity to help shape the draft National Strategic Development Plan Update for 2009-13 (NSDP).

Chith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum in Cambodia, said the three-week period slated for civil society comment on the NSDP draft, which closed on January 14, was too short to be meaningful.

“Sufficient information should be given before consultations take place,” he said during a workshop in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. “In order to ensure the participation is successful, sufficient time should be given.”

The NSDP for 2009-13 – a key planning document that creates a framework for the country’s development – carries forward a similar plan for 2006-10, though it has been adjusted to account for the effects of the global financial crisis, said Theng Pagnathun, deputy director general at the Ministry of Planning.

He said the government’s consultation process over the new draft began last May with the issuing of a circular and the organisation of workshops for its distribution. “There has been the involvement of NGOs, CSOs [civil society organisations] and donors,” he said. “This is the consultation we’ve been having – it’s not perfect.”

The NSDP draft is due to be signed by the King in May or June, at which point it will be disseminated widely, he added.

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